by Lorie Lewis Ham
The Neil Simon play Brighton Beach Memoirs opened in Selma at the Selma Arts Center this past weekend, presented by the Raisin’ Cain Players.
Brighton Beach Memoirs is a semi-autobiographical play, which is the first chapter in what is known as his Eugene trilogy. It precedes Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound. The play is set in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn in 1937 during the depression. It is a coming-of-age comedy focusing on Eugene Morris Jerome–who also acts as the narrator. Eugene (Kevin Carillo) is a Jewish teenager who is experiencing puberty and all of the many changes and questions that go with it, while dealing with the trials of his family, and trying to figure out who he is–the one constant for him is that he wants to be a writer, if he doesn’t make it as a professional baseball player.
There are tensions in the home as they try to make ends meet, Eugene’s mother Kate (Cathy Hughes) tries to find a husband for her sister Blanche (Jennifer Allen), and they all try to live together in love despite all of the normal conflicts one can find in a family. Eugene’s aunt Blanche lives with them, along with her two daughters Nora (Bridget Paul) and Laurie (Anna Armstrong), which makes things even tenser and more cramped. There is also his overworked father, Jack (Thomas Nance), and Eugene’s big brother Stanley (Scott Chapman).
The struggles they go through to survive are still very relatable, as many families are again living together to make ends meet just like they did then. While there are many tensions and arguments amongst the family throughout the show, there is also a lot of love, and a feeling that no matter how crazy your family might make you–they are still your family and you look out for each other. Eugene brings most of the laughs to the story with his observations and sarcastic wit.
While everyone did a fine job of bringing this dysfunctional and very relatable family to life, Kevin as Eugene brought the spark and the energy to this show–he was wonderful to watch.
If you enjoy a very realistic family story that will make you laugh through your tears, then be sure to head out to Selma and catch Brighton Beach Memoirs which will be on stage through October 22 at the Selma Arts Center, 1935 High Street, Selma, CA. While it is a story about family, be aware that it is not appropriate for all members of your family, as the story does include some sex related language.
Tickets can be purchased by calling their box office (559) 891-2238 or on their website.
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